Nabih Berri

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Nabih Berri
Nabih Berri.jpg
Speaker of the Parliament of Lebanon
In office
20 October 1992 – present
PresidentElias Hrawi
Émile Lahoud
Michel Sleiman
Preceded byHussein el-Husseini
Personal details
Born(1938-01-28) 28 January 1938 (age 75)
Bo, Sierra Leone
NationalityLebanese
Political partyAmal Movement
Spouse(s)Randa Berri
ReligionShia Islam
 
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Nabih Berri
Nabih Berri.jpg
Speaker of the Parliament of Lebanon
In office
20 October 1992 – present
PresidentElias Hrawi
Émile Lahoud
Michel Sleiman
Preceded byHussein el-Husseini
Personal details
Born(1938-01-28) 28 January 1938 (age 75)
Bo, Sierra Leone
NationalityLebanese
Political partyAmal Movement
Spouse(s)Randa Berri
ReligionShia Islam

Nabih Berri (Arabic: نبيه بري‎; born 28 January 1938) is the Speaker of the Parliament of Lebanon. He heads the Shi'a Amal Movement.[1][2]

Early life and education[edit]

He was born in Bo, Sierra Leone to Lebanese parents on 28 January 1938.[3] His father was involved in buying goods from the indigenous people of Sierra Leone for a large multi-national corporation.

Berri went to school in Tebnine and Ain Ebel in southern Lebanon, then continued his education in Bint Jbeil and Jaafariya supplementary schools in southern Lebanon and later studied at the Makassed and the Ecole de la Sagesse in Beirut. He obtained a law degree in 1963 from the Lebanese University, where he had served as the student body president, and became a lawyer at the Court of Appeals. He also graduated from Paris-Sorbonne University in France[citation needed]. During the 1960s, he joined the Arab Nationalist Movement.

Early career[edit]

During 1963, Berri was elected as president of the National Union of Lebanese Students, and participated to student and political conferences. During his early career he became a lawyer at the Court of Appeals. Berri wanted to ran for parliamentary seat on the list of Kamel Asaad, then speaker of the Lebanese parliament in the general elections of 1968 and 1972.[4] However, Asaad objected his candidacy.[4] In the early 1970s, Berri worked in Beirut as a lawyer for several companies. He also became a warlord during the civil war backed by Syria.[5]

He held a series of positions in the Amal movement during the late 1970s, after Imam Musa al-Sadr, a Shi'a cleric, disappeared under mysterious circumstances while on a trip to Libya in 1978, and is thought to have been killed on the orders of Muammar Gaddafi.

In 1980, Berri was elected leader of the Amal movement, and led it during the Lebanese civil war. Under his leadership, Amal gradually gained the identity of conservative Shi’a movement.[6] It became an ally of the status quo and anti-Palestinian forces during the civil war.[6] In addition, the movement could not recruit the more militant young activists influenced by the Islamic revolution and other events in Iran.[6] On the other hand, Berri subsequently joined the National Unity government as minister of state for South Lebanon and reconstruction under Prime Minister Rashid Karami in May 1984.[7] He also served as the minister of housing and co-operatives.

Later political career[edit]

Berri again served as a cabinet minister from 1989 to 1992. He is reported to have the biggest influence in the Lebanese government formed after the Taif Accord.[8] He became elected speaker of the National Assembly on 20 November 1992 at the head of the "Liberation of the South Movement" list. On 8 September 1996, his list, the Liberation and Development, won the legislative elections and he was once again re-elected Speaker. In the general elections of 2000, he won the seat of Zahrani, the first district of south Lebanon.[9]

On 3 June 2003, Berri was elected President of the Arab Parliament, which he assumed on 1 March the following year. In the 2009 general elections, he also won a seat from Zahrani as part of the 8 March alliance list.[10]

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Lebanon

Currently Berri headed the list of "Resistance and Development" in the parliamentary elections that took place in southern Lebanon on 3 September 2000, which was won in full. He also headed the list of "Liberation" in the parliamentary elections that took place in southern Lebanon on 6 September 1992, which was won in full. The other lists he headed were "Liberation and Development" in the parliamentary elections on 8 September 1996, which was won in full, "Liberation and Development" in the parliamentary elections which took place in June 2005, which was won in full. Since 1992 he chairs the "Liberation and Development" parliamentary bloc.

Speaker of the Parliament of Lebanon[edit]

He was elected to the Lebanese Parliament for the first time on 20 October 1992, during the Syrian presence in Lebanon, as he expectedly passed a law that allowed Rafik Hariri's Solidere to forcibly expropriate private property and real estate in downtown Beirut now worth tens of billions of USD. He was re-elected for a second time on 22 October 1996. He was elected to the same post three more times on 17 October 2000 unanimously (124 votes out of 126 votes), on 28 June 2005[11] and on 25 June 2009.

Arab World[edit]

Berri headed since 1999 Arab Parliamentary Committee. On 3 June 2003, he was elected president of the Arab Parliamentary Union and handed the presidency in Damascus on 3 January 2004 for a period of two years. He was elected president of the Council of the Parliamentary Union of the Member States of the

Corruption[edit]

During his tenure as speaker of the Lebanese parliament, Berri is estimated to have gathered a fortune of over USD 2 Billion.[12]

Among the earliest examples of Berri's corruption early in his tenure as speaker of parliament was a coastal motorway in southern Lebanon which was overpriced by three digit million USD sum, and whose contract was won by a firm run by Berri's wife, Randa Assi.[13][14]

He was considered by Rafik Hariri to be "irredeemably corrupt and unreliable", as well as an opportunist,[15] and is thought to maintain his support base through access to state funds.

Berri's current wife Randa's sister, Samira Assi, is said to have made a fortune by getting a contract from Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi to print one million copies of Gaddafi's "Green Book".[16] Assi's deals are seen as highly controversial, since the founder of the Amal Movement, Musa al-Sadr, is known to have been disappeared on the orders of Gaddafi himself.

Wikileaks diplomatic cables[edit]

Berri was mentioned repeatedly in the diplomatic cables released by Wikileaks. A cable from 2004 described the Amal Movement under Berri as being "near universally derided as corrupt to the core",[17] and Berri was described by a relative of Musa al-Sadr as having provided social services in the south only through "wheeling, dealing, and stealing".[18]

During the 2006 Lebanon war, Berri described Israel's attacks on Hezbollah as being "like honey", and hoped that Israel would complete its mission against Hezbollah quickly. He suggested that the IDF "markedly improve its targeting intelligence to make air strikes more effective. Either that, or they would have to wipe Hizballah out of the south with a ground offensive." He also suggested that "if Israel succeeds in weakening Hizballah militarily, then he will be more willing to weaken them politically".[19]

According the cables, Berri receives USD 400,000 a month from Iran, using a fourth of the sum to shore up his support and pocketing the rest.[20]

Personal life[edit]

Berri's spouse Randa Berri has a construction firm.[21]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Fandy, Mamoun (2007). (Un)civil war of words: media and politics in the Arab world. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 75. ISBN 978-0-275-99393-1. Retrieved 25 April 2011. 
  2. ^ Nir, Omri (15 February 2011). Nabih Berri and Lebanese Politics. Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 978-0-230-10535-5. Retrieved 25 April 2011. 
  3. ^ "Nabih Berri". Wars of Lebanon. Retrieved 27 January 2013. 
  4. ^ a b Rola el Husseini (15 October 2012). Pax Syriana: Elite Politics in Postwar Lebanon. Syracuse University Press. p. 98. ISBN 978-0-8156-3304-4. Retrieved 15 March 2013. 
  5. ^ Rola el Husseini (2004). "Lebanon: Building political dynasties". In Volker Perthes. Arab Elites: Negotiating the Politics of Change. Lynne Rienner Publishers. 
  6. ^ a b c Pioppi, Daniela (2010). "Anatomy of a political party: Hezbollah – Sectarian upshot or actor of change?". IDEA: 69–90. Retrieved 17 March 2013. 
  7. ^ Owen, Roger (October 1984). "The Lebanese Crisis: Fragmentation or Reconciliation?". Third World Quarterly 6 (4): 934–949. Retrieved 11 March 2013. 
  8. ^ Haddad, Simon (April 2002). "Cultural diversity and sectarian attitudes in postwar Lebanon". Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 28 (2): 291–306. Retrieved 3 July 2012. 
  9. ^ "Opposition Candidates Win Elections". APS Diplomat Recorder. 9 September 2000. Retrieved 10 March 2013. 
  10. ^ "New parliament composition". Lebanese Information Center. Retrieved 21 January 2013. 
  11. ^ Mallat, Chibli. Lebanon's Cedar Revolution An essay on non-violence and justice. Mallat. p. 122. 
  12. ^ "06Beirut1090". Wikileaks. 7 April 2006. Retrieved 10 March 2013. 
  13. ^ Johnson, Michael (2001). All Honorable Men: The Social Origins Of War In Lebanon, p.236
  14. ^ Schwerna, Tobias (2010). Lebanon: A Model of Consociational Conflict, p.128
  15. ^ Blanford, Nicholas (2006). Killing Mr. Lebanon: The Assasination of Rafik Hariri and Its Impact on the Middle East, p. 118
  16. ^ Nabih Berri profile - Middle East Intelligence Bulletin
  17. ^ Lebanon: What's wrong with AMAL?
  18. ^ The "independent Shia" of Lebanon: What Wikileaks tells us about American efforts to find an alternative to Hizballah
  19. ^ Berri says cease-fire necessary eventually, but for now, Israeli strikes are lile honey
  20. ^ Amal-Hizballah Marriage Weakening Amal But May Open A Way For Other Shia
  21. ^ Gambill, Gary C.; Ziad K. Abdelnour (July 2001). "Dossier: Rafiq Hariri". Middle East Intelligence Bulletin 3 (7). Retrieved 17 March 2013.